Martine van Hamel, whose
father was a Dutch diplomat, was born in Brussels. She studied
dance in Denmark, Holland, and Venezuela before settling down at
the National Ballet School of Canada. In l966, van Hamel was awarded
the Gold Medal at the International Ballet Competition held in
Varna, Bulgaria, and simultaneously won the seldom-awarded Prix
de Varna for best artistic interpretation in all categories. She
was a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada and danced
most of the major ballerina roles while with that company. She
subsequently became a member of the City Center Joffrey Ballet
before joining American Ballet Theatre in 1970. At American Ballet
Theatre, van Hamel was promoted to the rank of Soloist in 1971,
and in 1973, became a Principal Dancer after a highly-acclaimed
New York debut as Odette-Odile in Swan Lake.
Her repertoire showcased her wide range: from pure classicism
to the dramatic. It included leading roles in Swan Lake, Sleeping
Beauty, La Sylphide, La Bayadere, Don
Quijote, Coppelia, Giselle,
and Raymonda. She danced ballets by choreographers Frederick Ashton,
George Balanchine, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Anthony Tudor, John Cranko,
Agnes De Mille and had ballets created on her by, Twyla Tharp,
Glen Tetley, David Gordon, David Parsons, Lynn Taylor Corbett,
and other notable choreographers.
Ms. van Hamel has also danced at In the American Grain, a June
1989 gala for ABT and the Martha Graham Company, in the role of
the Pioneering Woman in Graham’s Appalachian Spring. She
choreographed her first ballet for ABT, Amnon V’Tamar, which
had its World Premiere in Miami in January 1984.
In June 1990, van Hamel celebrated 20 years with ABT, dancing
the leading role in Swan Lake. From 1992 until 1998, she
danced with Jiri Kylian’s Netherlands Dans Theater III. During
that time she danced ballets by choreographers Jiri Kylian, Maguy
William Forsythe, Hans van Maanen, Martha Clarke and Mats Ekk.
She also continued to choreograph works for The Washington Ballet,
Milwaukee Ballet, and The Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
Van Hamel was the recipient of the Cue Magazine Award for outstanding
dancer in 1976, the 1983 Dance Magazine Award, honoring her dedication
to, and enrichment of, the art of dance, the Dance Education of
America's Award in July 1989, and the 1992 Award for Excellence
from Washington College. She is Co-Founder of the Kaatsbaan International
Dance Center dedicated to the growth, advancement and preservation
of professional dance.
She also directs “Extreme Ballet” for ballet students
in the summer, and is the current artistic director of her own
company, the New Amsterdam Ballet. As artistic director, Ms. Hamel
engages artists in an imaginative and challenging repertoire, with
works by both world-renowned and new choreographers.
She still performs on occasion in character roles with ABT and
in recent works created for her by AnneMarie DeAngelo, and Wendy
Perron. Martine has also enjoyed singing with The New York Choral
Society since 1999. She has taught for Juilliard and the JKO School
since its inception.
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